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Italy’s navy, the Regia Marina was the fourth-largest naval force in the world at the outbreak of World War II, and yet is often overlooked and largely discounted as ineffective. In general the fleet was made up of obsolete vessels, lacked radar functionality, and had a reputation for indiscipline and poorly trained crews. The complex and bureaucratic command system imposed on the fleet further hampered its effectiveness. In this book, Mark Stille details why the Italian battleships were able to maintain a solid reputation, examining their impressive designs and the courage and determination of the fleet at Calabria, Sirte, Cape Spartiveto and Cape Matapan, all illustrated with stunning photographs from the Italian Navy’s own archives.
This volume details the design, construction, and operation of the first six of the ten US fast battleships, two of the North Carolina class and four of the South Dakota class. These six battleships were all authorized in 1936 and were the first vessels built in the US since 1923. Consequently, these ships benefitted from enormous technological leaps, with improvements in ship design, power, armor, armament and the single most important improvement the use of radar guided fire control helping to change the course of the war in the Pacific. Packed with first-hand accounts, battle reports, and specially created artwork this book tells the story of these war-winning vessels.
Until a few weeks before the fall of Rangoon, the British had not dreamt the Japanese would invade Burma. So in early 1942, British soldiers trained for desert warfare fought a Japanese Army trained and equipped for the jungle. Those who survived this fierce fighting faced malaria, air attack, and lack of food and water, on the long walk out through the Valley of Death. Ragged groups of soldiers and civilians were forced to trek out of Burma through some of the most inhospitable terrain in the world. They hacked their way through jungle, forded rivers, and climbed steep mountainsides to escape. Many did not survive the journey. Among these incredible stories was that of Bill Williams, who led refugees out on a herd of elephants. Other civilians who had enjoyed an idyllic colonial lifestyle were ill-equipped for the journey. Setting off with the family silver and their pets, they soon had to abandon all but the essentials in order to survive. Thousands died, but many more crossed the border into India and safety.
War in the Wilderness is the most comprehensive account ever published of the human aspects of the Chindit war in Burma. The word Chindit will always have a special resonance in military circles. Every Chindit endured what is widely regarded as the toughest sustained Allied combat experience of the Second World War. The Chindit expeditions behind Japanese lines in occupied Burma 1943 1944 transformed the morale of British forces after the crushing defeats of 1942. The Chindits provided the springboard for the Allies later offensives. The two expeditions extended the boundaries of human endurance. The Chindits suffered slow starvation and exposure to dysentery, malaria, typhus and a catalogue of other diseases. They endured the intense mental strain of living and fighting under the jungle canopy, with the ever-present threat of ambush or simply bumping the enemy. Every Chindit carried his kit and weapons (equivalent to two heavy suitcases) in the tropical heat and humidity. A disabling wound or sickness frequently meant a lonely death. Those who could no longer march were often left behind with virtually no hope of survival. Some severely wounded were shot or given a lethal dose of morphia to ensure they would not be captured alive by the Japanese. Fifty veterans of the Chindit expeditions kindly gave interviews for this book. Many remarked on the self-reliance that sprang from living and fighting as a Chindit. Whatever happened to them after their experiences in Burma, they knew that nothing else would ever be as bad. There are first-hand accounts of the bitter and costly battles and the final, wasteful weeks, when men were forced to continue fighting long after their health and strength had collapsed. War in the Wilderness continues the story as the survivors returned to civilian life. They remained Chindits for the rest of their days, members of a brotherhood forged in extreme adversity.
A detailed glimpse into the weapons, equipment and uniforms worn by Roman Centurions from the Roman Kingdom right through to the height of the Republic. Including new research, photographs of artefacts and the signature Men-at-Arms artwork, this is an essential addition to the series and includes several artwork reconstructions of actual named individuals and two lavish scenes depicting combat between Centurions and a Triumphal procession.
A detailed glimpse into the weapons, equipment and uniforms worn by Roman Centurions from the Roman Kingdom right through to the height of the Republic. Including new research, photographs of artefacts and the signature Men-at-Arms artwork, this is an essential addition to the series and includes several artwork reconstructions of actual named individuals and two lavish scenes depicting combat between Centurions and a Triumphal procession.
Revered naval theorist, Alfred Thayer Mahan, thought the Battle of Quiberon Bay (20 Nov 1759) was as significant as Nelson's victory in 1805, calling it 'the Trafalgar of this war [the Seven Years War]'. Arguably it was even more vital. Britain in 1759 was much less well-defended, with virtually no regular troops at home, and the threat of French invasion was both more realistic and more imminent. When the British fleet under Admiral Hawke fell upon them, the French ships of the line under Admiral Conflans were actually on their way to rendezvous with the invasion troopships gathered at the mouth of the Loire. Yet the battle and the admiral remain relatively obscure - there is no Quiberon Square or Hawke's column. The battle itself was fought in terrible weather, the French attempting to exploit their local knowledge by heading for Quiberon Bay, assuming the British would not follow them among its treacherous shoals in such conditions. Hawke, however, pursued them under full sail and the French ships were destroyed, captured, run aground or scattered for the loss of only two British ships which ran aground. The invasion was thwarted. Professor Nicholas Tracy studies the battle and its strategic consequences, particularly upon the war for North America.
George James Guthrie is one of the unsung heroes of the Peninsular War and Waterloo, and of British military medicine. He was a guiding light in surgery. He was not only a soldier's surgeon and a hands-on doctor, he also set a precedent by keeping records and statistics of cases. While the innovations in the medical services of the French Republic and Empire have been publicized, a military surgeon of the calibre of Guthrie has been largely ignored by students of the period – until now. Michael Crumplin, in this comprehensive and graphic study of this remarkable doctor, follows him through his career in the field and recognizes his exceptional contribution to British military medicine and to Wellington's army.
This is a technical outline of the history of the sniper rifle, from its introduction in warfare during the Napoleonic wars, through the US Civil War to its current apogee as the most frequently used combat rifle in Iraq and Afghanistan. This book details the development of ammunition, different weapons types including single shot, magazine loading and semi-automatic, as well as the introduction and use of optical sights. Martin Pegler, a leading expert on the history of sniping and former Senior Curator of Firearms at the Royal Armouries Leeds, also details the current advances in technology, such as laser range - finding sights and night vision devices. Using first-hand accounts, the book brings the dangerous world of the sniper to life revealing their training and concealment techniques as well as their mastering of their weapon of choice.
The Browning 50-cal has become the longest serving weapon in the US inventory. The fifty has been employed in every imaginable role for a machine gun. It is considered such an effective and reliable weapon that few countries ever attempted to develop an equivalent weapon. Even the Japanese created a copy of it during World War II when the US was producing literally thousands every month to use in every theater. This is a history of the development of this famous weapon, its most critical operational use and the variants that have been produced to keep it at the forefront of the action.
The Anglo-Zulu War may be best remembered for the military blundering that led to the astonishing British defeat at Isandlwana, but as Stephen Wade shows in this book, military action throughout the war was supplemented by the actions of spies and explorers in the field, and was often heavily influenced by the decisions made by diplomats. Examining the roles of both spies and diplomats, the author looks at numerous influential figures in the conflict, including John Dunn, who fought with the British during the campaign, becoming ruler of part of Zululand after its conquest and even being presented to Queen Victoria. Diplomats include Sir Theophilus Shepstone, who was responsible for directing native affairs in Natal, and was so respected by the Zulus they called him Father . This unique and fascinating account of espionage and diplomacy in the nineteenth century demonstrates not only a side of warfare rarely considered in traditional histories of the period, but also gives examples of individuals who were able to earn the respect and trust of the native peoples, another rarely seen facet of the colonial period.
In The African Wars Chris Peers provides a graphic account of several of the key campaigns fought between European powers and the native peoples of tropical and sub-tropical Africa in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. His pioneering and authoritative study describes in vivid detail the organization and training of African warriors, their weapons, their fighting methods and traditions, and their tactics. He concentrates on the campaigns mounted by the most successful African armies as they struggled to defend themselves against the European scramble for Africa. Resistance was inconsistent, but some warlike peoples fought long and hard - the Zulu victory over the British at Isandhlwana is the best known but by no means the only occasion when the Africans humiliated the colonial invaders.
Hitler's decision to renege on his alliance with Stalin and invade Russia in June 1941 was to have the most far reaching consequences for the world. Indeed, if there was one critical turning point in the Second World War, it would have to be this. The latest book in the Images of War series uses over 300 rare contemporary photographs to capture the scale, intensity and brutality of the fighting that was unleashed on 22 June 194`. No less than 4.5 million men of the Axis Power advanced on a 2,900 kilometer front. We see how the apparently unstoppable German led assaults crushed the Soviet resistance. But not for the first time Russian determination aided by the terrible winter conditions and over extended lines of communication checked the Nazi onslaught. In the annals of warfare there has never arguably been such a bitter and costly campaign.
The Thompson submachine gun, or Tommy gun developed an almost iconic status during the 20th century. It had an unusual beginning, for it was developed during the dying days of World War I as a 'one-man, hand-held machine gun'. The war ended before these first prototypes could be shipped to Europe but once the M1921 Thompson formally entered production it was used by the criminals working in Chicago and New York during the 1920s. With the police increasingly outgunned they too were forced to equip themselves with the Tommy gun. It quickly came to be used in Hollywood films, and by the end of the 1930s it would have probably faded from view had history not intervened. With the entry of the US into World War II there was an urgent need to equip and arm a force of epic proportions; the Thompson submachine gun began a second career as part of the US Army. It also became the weapon of choice for the small band of British commandos as they conducted a number of daring raids against the heart of occupied Europe.
The photos in this book are taken from an unpublished album belonged to a member of the elite German Paratroopers. First Sgt Wilhelm Plieschen served with Fallschirmjager Machine Gun Battalion 7. They suffered very heavy losses in the invasion of Crete and then saw bloody conflict as "Hitler s Fire-fighters" on the Russian Front and put up fierce resistance in places such as Monte Casino. The photographs were taken in Austria, Romania, Bulgaria Greece and Russia. There are photographs taken on an airfield on 15 May 1941 of paratroopers with kit on the ground and in front of their transport aircraft. There are a number of photographs taken en route to Crete with photographs of the paratroopers in a JU52 and shots looking out from the plane.On 20 May 1941, Plieschen was dropped over Crete. There are a set of photographs taken by the paratrooper moments after he had landed on the island. Some show other paratroopers drifting down and others feature formations of German aircraft amidst flak.There are very good images showing Germans on the deck of the badly damaged and abandoned HMS York in Souda Bay. There are photographs showing Major Erich Schulz decorating paratroopers on Crete. Further on in the set are photos showing the then Commander of the Fallschirmjager, General Kurt Student inspecting the troops.
At its peak in World War II, the United States Army contained over 700 engineer battalions, along with numerous independent brigades and regiments. The specialized soldiers of the Engineers were tasked with a wide variety of crucially important tasks including river bridging, camouflage, airfield construction, and water and petroleum supply. However, despite their important support roles, the engineers were often employed on the front lines fighting beside the general infantry in the desperate battles of the European theatre. This book covers the role of these soldiers, from their recruitment and training, through their various support missions and combat experiences, forming an account of what it was truly like to be a combat engineer in World War II.
Military public relations endeavours ultimately seek to build a sense of common interests and aims, and so generally foster good relations with the people they defend, and there in ensure a stable society. The armed forces when engaging on any public relations exercise, have traditionally sought to provide an entertaining spectacle. For years this has been typified by parades, bands, mock battles, drill displays and other relevant feats of military prowess which have captured the imagination of the public and inspired potential recruits. 1920 was the year that the first of the famed and legendary Hendon Air Pageants was staged, and this is where military air shows traditionally began. The Hendon Displays were organised and staged by the still fledging Royal Air Force and it was probably due in no small part to the prestige and spectacle of this fresh new dimension of military pageantry, together with other like events held at RAF airfields through the next two decades, that the very existence of the RAF was saved from the threat of abolition.
The opening years of the fifteenth century saw one of the most bitterly contested political and military convulsions in the history of the British Isles, a conflict that is too-often overlooked by military historians. Henry IV, who had overthrown and probably murdered his predecessor Richard II, fought a protracted and bloody campaign against the most powerful nobles in the land. This war is the subject of John Barratt’s gripping study. The Percy family, the ‘Kings of the North’, and their most famous leader Sir Henry Percy – ‘Hotspur’,whose fiery nature and military prowess were immortalized by Shakespeare – stood out against Henry’s rule. And the beleagured king also had to contend with a range of other unrelenting opponents, among them Owain Glyn Dwr, who led the Welsh revolt against English supremacy. In this graphic account of the first, deeply troubled years of Henry IV’s reign, John Barratt concentrates on the warfare, in particular on the setpiece pitched battles fought at Homildon Hill, Pilleth and Shrewsbury. His story brings to life the embittered politics and the personal and family enmities that gave rise to armed conflict. And he describes in vivid detail the tactics and fighting methods of the day, which were dominated by the devastating power of the English longbow.
In the winter of 1812, Napoleon's army retreated from Moscow under appalling conditions, hunted by three separate Russian armies, its chances of survival apparently nil. By late November Napoleon had reached the banks of the River Berezina - the last natural obstacle between his army and the safety of the Polish frontier. But instead of finding the river frozen solid enough to march his men across, an unseasonable thaw had turned the Berezina into an icy torrent. Having already ordered the burning of his bridging equipment, Napoleon's predicament was serious enough: but with the army of Admiral Chichagov holding the opposite bank, and those of Kutusov and Wittgenstein closing fast, it was critical. Only a miracle could save him. In a gripping narrative Alexander Mikaberidze describes how Napoleon rose from the pit of despair to the peak of his powers in order to achieve that miracle. Drawing on contemporary sources - letters, diaries, memoirs - he recreates one of the greatest escapes in military history - a story often half-told in general histories of the Russian campaign but never before fully explored.
Dervish is the vivid and colourful story of one of the more remarkable episodes in the "high Empire" period of British history. The Mahdi’s rising in the Sudan in the 1880s starting as a localized Holy War against the "decadent" Turkish/Egyptian overlords, engulfed a million square miles of arid territory and forced the British Liberal Government to get involved after the early disasters of the Hicks expedition and Gordon’s death at Khartoum. The narrative, which makes excellent use of the first-hand diaries and reports, including those of Rider Haggard’s brother Andrew and of Father Ohrwalder (the Austrian missionary who spent ten years of captivity in the Mahdi’s camp), brilliantly describes the growth and strength of the Mahdist movement and the extraordinary devotion and discipline of the Dervish troops. Facing such opponents with stoic endurance were the British, Egyptian and Sudanese Negro soldiers, and the resulting military engagements evoked amazing feats of courage and derring-do on both sides. The Dervish Empire outlasted the Mahdi by thirteen years. It ended in the battle of Omdurman and Kitchener’s reconquest of the Sudan, which was well supported by Reginald Wingate’s military intelligence operations. It lasted a comparatively brief span of time, but it had been established at the expense not only of the neighbouring Abyssinians but also of the European white man, at a time when Britain was approaching the zenith of its imperial power.
Each great samurai warlord, or daimyo, had a division of troops known as the Hatamoto, 'those who stand under the flag'. The Hatamoto included the personal bodyguards, the senior generals, the standard bearers and colour-guard, the couriers, and the other samurai under the warlord's personal command. Apart from bodyguard and other duties in immediate attendance on the daimyo, both horse and foot guards often played crucial roles in battle. Their intervention could turn defeat into victory, and their collapse meant certain defeat. As favoured warriors under the warlord's eye, members of the bodyguards could hope for promotion, and a few even rose to be daimyo themselves. All the three great leaders of the 16 and 17th centuries - including Oda, Hideyoshi and Tokugawa - had their own elite corps. Such troops were naturally distinguished by dazzling apparel and heraldry, with banners both carried and attached to the back of the armour, all of which will be detailed in an array of colour artwork specially created for this publication.
A brilliant but little-known operation, the Shimazu clan raid on the independent kingdom of Rykyu (modern Okinawa) in 1609 is one of the most extraordinary episodes in samurai history and the culmination of centuries of rivalry between the two powers. The defeat of the Shimazu at Sekigahara in 1600, and their need to win favour with the new Shogun, led them to hatch an audacious plot to attack the islands on the Shogun's behalf and bring back the king of Rykyu as a hostage. Stephen Turnbull gives a blow-by-blow account of the operation, from the daring Shimazu amphibious landing, to their rapid advance overland, and the tactical feigned retreat that saw the Shimazu defeat the Okinawan army and kidnap their king in spectacular fashion. With a detailed background and specially commissioned artwork, the scene is set for a dramatic retelling of this fascinating raid.
For armchair admirals, history buffs, and naval enthusiasts everywhere, "A Naval Miscellany" is an indispensible and entertaining collection of fascinating and little-known facts, anecdotes, lists, curiosities and stories from our naval past. Forgotten heroes, amazing blunders, surprising trivia, and strange-but-true stories are all included. Who were the naval heroes of the ancient world, and the world's worst admirals? How much did a midshipman get paid in the eighteenth century? What are the origins of sea shanties? Where are the biggest naval bases in the world today? And how does a ship float? It's all here in this little book that will amaze and enlighten even the most avid student of naval history!
Alex de Quesada reveals the full history of the US Coast Guard throughout World War II in this Elite title. In particular, the book draws attention to the little-known story of how the US Coast Guard ran a number of the landing craft throughout D-Day in 1944 as well as providing crucial anti-U-boat patrols throughout the war years. A number of Coast Guard servicemen were lost in these two campaigns, and their undeniable contribution to the US war effort deserves greater recognition. The Coast Guard also provided aviators and gunners to the Merchant Marine and manned Port Security Services. These roles are all fully explained and illustrated with rare photographs and specially commissioned artwork.
During the 19th century Britain entered into three brutal wars with Afghanistan, each one saw the British trying and failing to gain control of a warlike and impenetrable territory. The first two wars (1839-42 and 1878-81) were wars of the Great Game; the British Empire's attempts to combat growing Russian influence near India's borders. The third, fought in 1919, was an Afghan-declared holy war against British India - in which over 100,000 Afghans answered the call, and raised a force that would prove too great for the British Imperial army. Each of the three wars were plagued by military disasters, lengthy sieges and costly engagements for the British, and history has proved the Afghans a formidable foe and their country unconquerable. This book reveals the history of these three Anglo-Afghan wars, the imperial power struggles that led to conflict and the torturous experiences of the men on the ground. The book concludes with a brief overview of the background to today's conflict in Afghanistan, and sketches the historical parallels.
From his seat in Xanadu, the great Mongol Emperor of China, Kubla Khan, had long plotted an invasion of Japan. However, it was only with the acquisition of Korea, that the Khan gained the maritime resources necessary for such a major amphibious operation. Written by eastern warfare expert Stephen Turnbull, this book tells the dramatic story of the two Mongol invasions of Japan that pitted the masters of the steppes against the noble Samurai. Using detailed maps, illustrations, and newly commissioned artwork, Turnbull charts the history of these great campaigns, which included numerous bloody raids on the Japanese islands, and ended with the famous kami kaze, the divine wind, that destroyed the Mongol fleet and would live in the Japanese consciousness and shape their military thinking for centuries to come.
The extraordinary character and career of Saladin are the keys to understanding the Battle of Hattin, the fall of Jerusalem and the failure of the Third Crusade. He united warring Muslim lands, reconquered the bulk of Crusader states and faced the Richard the Lion Heart, king of England, in one of the most famous confrontations in medieval warfare. Geoffrey Hindley's sympathetic and highly readable study of the life and times of this remarkable, many-sided man, who dominated the Middle East in his day, gives a fascinating insight into his achievements and into the Muslim world of his contemporaries. Geoffrey Hindley is a distinguished medieval historian who has written widely on many aspects of the period. He has made a special study of medieval warfare and of sieges in particular. His previous books include Castles of Europe, Medieval Warfare, England in the Age of Caxton, Under Siege, Tourists, Travellers and Pilgrims, The Book of Magna Carta and The Crusades. His most recent publications are is A Brief History of the Anglo-Saxons and Medieval Siege and Siegecraft.
The name John Muir has come to stand for the protection of wild land and wilderness in both America and Britain. Born in Dunbar in 1838, Muir is famed as a pioneer of American conservation and his passion, discipline and vision still inspire. Combining acute observation with a sense of inner discovery, Muir's writings of his summer in what would become the great national park of Yosemite in California's Sierra valley raise a close awareness of nature to a spiritual dimension. His journal provides a unique marriage of natural history, lyrical prose and amusing anecdote, retaining a freshness, intensity and brutal honesty which will amaze the modern reader.
Since the beginning of the 20th century, destroyers have been all-purpose ships, playing vital roles in the war effort: from passing the mail at sea to screening larger ships from hostile torpedo attacks. This book covers the 175 ships of the 2100-ton Fletcher class plus the 67 Allen.M Sumner-class destroyers commissioned during war, as well as the five vessels of the 45-strong Gearing class which saw action. These were the definitive destroyers of the Pacific War, taking part in action from Guadalcanal through the concurrent occupation of the Central Pacific islands and New Guinea, to the recovery of the Philippines and the taking of Iwo Jima, and which bore the brunt of the kamikaze onslaught which reached its peak at Okinawa. The author Dave McComb is the president of the Destroyer History Foundation.
The Battle of the Coral Sea is unique in the annals of naval history. It is the first battle in which enemy fleets never came within sight of one another. Instead, aircraft launched from carrier decks were sent out to attack the enemy with bombs and torpedoes. In May of 1942, the Japanese fleet moved on Port Moresby, the last Allied base between Australia and Japan. Forced to respond, the Americans sent two aircraft carriers to protect the base. In the ensuing battle, one American carrier was destroyed and the other severely damaged. However, the Japanese also lost a carrier and decided to withdraw. Although bloody, it proved to be an important strategic victory for the Allies as the Japanese were forced to attempt future attacks on Port Moresby over land. Using the latest research and numerous period photographs, retired USN Commander Mark O Stille tells the story of this important and unique battle in the Pacific War.
Following the lightening destruction of the Egyptian forces at the outbreak of the Six Day War, Israel turned to the forces of Jordan and Syria, with whom Egypt had signed a mutual-defence pact, and which had now entered the war. Jordan's army moved against West Jerusalem and central Israel, while Syria began shelling Israeli towns from the seemingly impregnable Golan Heights. The IDF's invasion of the Golan was as daring and successful as its more famous Egyptian victory, but its success in Jordan - taking the West Bank - sowed the seeds of its future troubles. Comprehensively illustrated with artwork, maps and battlefield views, this new history brings one of the most important of 20th century campaigns to life.
Among the British troops bound for the Black Sea in May 1854 was a young officer in the 5th Dragoon Guards, Richard Temple Godman, who sent home throughout the entire Crimea campaign many detailed letters to his family at Park Hatch in Surrey. Temple Godman went out at the start of the war, took part in the successful Charge of the Heavy Brigade at Balaklava and in other engagements, and did not return to England until June 1856, after peace had been declared. He took three very individual horses and despite all his adventures brought them back unscathed. Godman’s dispatches from the fields of war reveal his wide interests and varied experiences; they range from the pleasures of riding in a foreign landscape, smoking Turkish tobacco, and overcoming boredom by donning comic dress and hunting wild dogs, to the pain of seeing friends and horses die from battle, disease, deprivation and lack of medicines.
In April 1862, the stage was set for one of the greatest locomotive chases in history. Union forces planned to steal a train and travel at high speed to Chattanooga, Tennessee, disabling the line as they went, in order to cut off vital rail supplies to the Confederate stronghold of Atlanta, Georgia, some 100-plus miles to the southwest. What they hadn't banked on was the dogged determination of one man - train conductor William Fuller - who, after realizing his train had been stolen, began a frantic pursuit, first by handcar, then by top-speed locomotive, dealing with derailments by running miles on foot to the next station, and single-handedly removing drag ties from the track in front of his train. The raiders were so hotly pursued that they had no time to inflict serious damage on the tracks and could not stop to gather more fuel. Just north of Ringgold, some miles south of Chattanooga, The General ran out of wood and the raiders scattered into the forested Appalachian Mountains. All were captured within days and sentenced to death. This title helps to discover the history of one of the most colourful and dramatic episodes of the Civil War.
Mark Lardas explores the origins of American warships, primarily light and medium frigates, built for the Continental Navy during the years 1776-1783. This was the first navy of the United States and much of the fleet was comprised of ships that had been modified from existing vessels, converted into warships to provide a crucial service during the American Revolutionary War. Despite having no real funding, this unique fleet had a surprising amount of success against the might of the Royal Navy, and this title discusses the strengths and weaknesses of each design, and the differences between European and American warships of the time. With a close look at how these ships performed in key battles, as well as the exploits of John Paul Jones - the founding father of the United States Navy - this is a complete, illustrated overview of the ships' service and development until France's entry into the war and the subsequent decline in importance of the Continental Navy.
From the English Civil War to today's War on Terror: in this sweeping account of nearly 500 years of military history, former soldier Allan Mallinson looks at how the Army's dramatic past has made it one of the most effective fighting forces in the world today. He shows us the people and events that have shaped the army we know today: how Marlborough's momentous victory at Blenheim is linked to Wellington's at Waterloo; how the desperate fight at Rorke's Drift in 1879 underpinned the heroism of the airborne forces in Arnhem in 1942; and why Montgomery's momentous victory at El Alamein mattered long after the Second World War was over. This is the story of hard-won military experience. From the Army's birth at the battle of Edgehill in 1642 to our current conflict in Afghanistan, this is history at its most relevant - and most dramatic.
The author describes how he joined the French Foreign Legion, without being able to speak any French and very close to the age limit. He takes the reader through the vigorous selection procedure, the relentless recruit regime and then elite Second Parachute Regiment's training in Corsica. We learn about the ethos and strict discipline of the Foreign Legion. He describes his fellow legionnaires drawn from many backgrounds and nations. Having won his kepi and paratroop wings he served across Africa and the Middle East, taking part in Operation Desert Storm (fighting Saddam Hussein's Republican Guard), peace keeping operations in Sarajevo and Bosnia and in former French colonies such as Chad and the Central African Republic. He graphically describes the action and appalling conditions of the local population. Accounts of life in the modern day Foreign Legion are rare indeed and this one written by a mature and modest man makes fascinating reading.
This book traces the epic 5,000-year story of warfare from the earliest battles to the War on Terror. It explores the campaigns and conflicts, the warriors and commanders and the tactics, weapons and technology that have shaped human warfare. The book explores the fascinating features on topics including; the role of infantry, siege warfare, military tactics and the treatment of wounded soldiers. War: From Ancient Egypt to Iraq combines a clear and compelling historical narrative with a wealth of fascinating supporting features.
The obliteration of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945 brought the world to a stand still. This unimaginable shock confirmed to the world that the race to develop a working atomic weapon during World War II had been won by the American-led international effort. Horrific and controversial even today, these first uses of the atomic bomb had intense ramifications not only on the continued development of the bomb, but also on politics and popular culture. As well as the technological development, historian James Delgado also examines how the US Army Air Force had to develop the capacity to deliver the weapons, and examines the sites where development and testing took place, in order to give a comprehensive history of the dawning of the nuclear age.
Few people over the last century are better qualified to discuss leadership than Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery, the charismatic and idiosyncratic Second World War leader. It was a subject to which he devoted much thought. 'In one short sentence, it is captaincy that counts', he writes. Using personal studies of famous political military and industrial figures, Monty analyses the qualities that make for effective leadership. Being, by any definition, a frank and honest man he does not hesitate to highlight perceived deficiencies. Among his case studies are the Generals of the two world wars, Haig, French, Gort, Wavell and Alexander. Political leaders include Cromwell and Nehru, Khrushchev, de Gaulle and Mao. In this edition a fascination and contentious comparison of Churchill and Eisenhower appears for the first time. This book was first published as The Path to Leadership in 1961. This is an expanded edition.
In the wake of the bloody civil war that followed Finland's independence from Russia in 1917, the border between the two countries was established across the Karelian Isthmus, an area long fought over by Russia, Finland and Sweden - and only 32km from the military and industrial city of Petrograd. As such, both sides began an intensive period of fortification and defensive planning. When the Winter War broke out in November 1939, the complex and heavily defended Mannerheim Line was fought over fiercely, with the network of fortifications coming under heavy bombardment, air attack and armoured assault.Through an analysis of the background and operational history of the Mannerheim Line, this book attempts to dispel myths and provide an accurate assessment of its great historical importance.
The weapons and armour of the Scottish warrior include some of historyâ s most famous and recognisable arms. From the mighty claymore two-handed sword to the diminutive sghian dubh, these instruments of warfare have given the military history of Scotland a distinctive flavour. Carried by men such as William Wallace, Robert the Bruce, and Bonnie Prince Charlie and used on the battlefields of Stirling Bridge, Bannockburn, Flodden and Culloden, they have become symbols of Scottish heritage and national identity.
In battle at Culloden Moor on 16 April 1746 the Jacobite cause was dealt a mortal blow. The power of the Highland clans was broken. And the image of sword-wielding Highlanders charging into a hail of lead delivered by the red-coated battalions of the Hanoverian army has passed into legend. The battle was decisive - it was a turning point in British history. And yet our perception of this critical episode tends to be confused by mistaken, sometimes partisan views of the events on the battlefield. So, what really happened at Culloden? In this fascinating and original book, a team of leading historians and archaeologists reconsiders every aspect of the battle. They examine the latest historical and archaeological evidence, question every assumption, and rewrite the story of the campaign in vivid detail. This is the first time that such a distinguished team of experts has focused on a single British battle. The result is a seminal study of the subject, and it is a landmark publication of battlefield archaeology.
The simple castles raised after the Norman conquest had been developed throughout 11th and 12th centuries, whilst the introduction of Islamic and Byzantine fortification techniques from the late 12th century led to further developments in castle architecture. These fortifications were to be well tested throughout the course of the 13th century as England was riven by the conflict, characterized by prolonged sieges, between the monarchy and powerful magnates. As well as providing the focus for warfare, castles increasingly became the centres of their communities, providing a more permanent base for the lord, his family and retainers, as well as acting as centres for justice and administration.
This book examines the brief but colorful history of the 1st US Volunteer Cavalry, and details the rich experiences of the men who fought in its ranks. Founded in May 1898 after the outbreak of the Spanish-American War, the unit was composed of volunteers from all walks of American life. Posted to Cuba, it fought in the battles of Las Guasimas, Kettle Hill and San Juan Hill. At this time, Theodore Roosevelt assumed command, and the unit became known as 'Roosevelt's Rough Riders'. Eventually withdrawn, the men returned to a hero's welcome in the US. The last veteran of the unit died in 1975, but a rich body of source material has survived, and much of this is covered in this fascinating work.
In 1864, General Ulysses S. Grant decided to strangle the life out of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia by surrounding the city of Petersburg and cutting off General Robert E. Lee's supply lines. The ensuing siege would carry on for nearly ten months, involve 160,000 soldiers, and see a number of pitched battles including the Battle of the Crater, Reams Station, Hatcher's Run, and White Oak Road. After nearly ten months, Grant launched an attack that sent the Confederate army scrambling back to Appomattox Court House where it would soon surrender. Written by an expert on the American Civil War, this book examines the last clash between the armies of U.S. Grant and Robert E. Lee.
Few centuries in world history have had such a profound and long-lasting impact as the first hundred years of Islamic history. In this book, David Nicolle examines the extensive Islamic conquests between AD 632 and 750. These years saw the religion and culture of Islam erupt from the Arabian Peninsula and spread across an area far larger than that of the Roman Empire. The effects of this rapid expansion were to shape European affairs for centuries to come. This book examines the social and military history of the period, describing how and why the Islamic expansion was so successful.
One of the most prestigious and versatile units of the British armed forces, the Royal Marine Commandos served in many theatres worldwide, performing a number of conventional and specialised roles. During the period covered in this account, conscription to the Royal Marines came to an end and the unit became a professional and dedicated force, with a tough recruitment programme and a focus on teamwork. This book provides a detailed look at the service life of a Royal Marine Commando in a time of great change, exploring the developments that took place in recruitment, training, equipment, weaponry, dress and tactical deployment in the post-World War II period.
The name John Muir has come to stand for the protection of wild land and wilderness in both America and Britain. His journal provides a unique marriage of natural history, lyrical prose and amusing anecdote, retaining a freshness, intensity and brutal honesty which will amaze the modern reader.
"In many ways I was like Alice," writes Alan Macfarlane on his first encounter with Japan, "that very assured and middle-class English girl, when she walked through the looking glass. I was full of certainty, confidence and unexamined assumptions about my categories. In this fascinating and endlessly surprising book he takes us with him on an exploration of every aspect of Japanese society from the most public to the most intimate.
The earliest fortifications in Japan were developed with the appearance of the first emperors in around 250 and were often simple wooden constructions. As internal strife became a way of life in Japan, more and increasingly elaborate fortifications. This book covers the entire period of Japanese castle development from the very first fortifications, through to the sophisticated structures of the 16th and 17th century, explaining how they were adapted to withstand Samurai firearms and exploring life within these castles. With unpublished photographs from the author's private collection and full-color artwork, including detailed cutaways, this is an essential guide to the fascinating development of Japanese fortifications.
Following on, from the success of "Out of Nowhere: A History of the Military Sniper", Martin Pegler gives us an in-depth study of the emergence of American rifleman, sharpshooter and sniper, examining the evolution of the rifle in America from the earliest firearms of the 15th century, to the highly accurate sniping rifles of the 21st century. Pegler analyses the technological development of the rifle, sighting systems and ammunition and uses contemporary accounts to describe how the use of the rifle during the Revolutionary War, Civil War and the conflicts of the 20th and 21st centuries have impacted on US military history. This detailed account concludes with a study of the American sniper in modern warfare, including Afghanistan and the ongoing conflict in Iraq, providing an overview of the march of weapons technology, as well as an unusual insight into the lives and the motives of the men who used them.
A military history of the campaigns of Belisarius, the greatest general of the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Emperor Justinian. He twice defeated the Persians and reconquered North Africa from the Vandals in a single year at the age of 29, before going on to regain Spain and Italy, including Rome (briefly), from the barbarians. It discusses the evolution from classical Roman to Byzantine armies and systems of warfare, as well as those of their chief enemies, the Persians, Goths and Vandals. It reassesses Belisarius' generalship and compares him with the likes of Caesar, Alexander and Hannibal. It will be illustrated with line drawings and battle plans as well as photographs.
The Imperial Army established by Augustus drew heavily on the nomenclature and traditions of the late Roman Republic, but was revolutionary in its design. He decided to meet all the military needs of the Empire from a standing, professional army. Military service became a career: enlistment was for 25 years (16 in the Praetorian Guard), and men were sometimes retained even longer. The loyalty of the new army was to the emperor and not to either the Senate or the People of Rome. Imperial legions became permanent units with their own numbers and titles and many were to remain in existence for centuries to come.
The Worldwide History of Warfare combines historical engravings, diagrams and artwork with an engaging modern text to create a visual study of humankinds extraordinary capacity for ingenuity in inventing new ways to wage war. The history of military hardware is interjected with fascinating diagrams of tactics and famous battles, which alongside an extensive glossary of terms creates a complete grammar for the school of war. Navigational features include tabs with detailed cross-references and timelines of key battles and inventions, which aid the reader in exploring the complex battleground of the history of warfare from ancient times through to the American Civil War.
From the Korean War to the current conflict in Iraq, Paying the Human Costs of War examines the ways in which the American public decides whether to support the use of military force. Contrary to the conventional view, the authors demonstrate that the public does not respond reflexively and solely to the number of casualties in a conflict. Instead, the book argues that the public makes reasoned and reasonable cost-benefit calculations for their continued support of a war based on the justifications for it and the likelihood it will succeed, along with the costs that have been suffered in casualties. Of these factors, the book finds that the most important consideration for the public is the expectation of success. If the public believes that a mission will succeed, the public will support it even if the costs are high. When the public does not expect the mission to succeed, even small costs will cause the withdrawal of support. Providing a wealth of new evidence about American attitudes toward military conflict, Paying the Human Costs of War offers insights into a controversial, timely, and ongoing national discussion.
From the Frontline is an extraordinary record of a family's military service over the last 100 years. Thanks to careful editing, each individual tells his story through letters and diaries which capture the military scene and reflect family ties that bind them all closely. The eight family members served in South Africa, West Africa, Korea, Aden, the Falklands and Afghanistan as well as both World Wars. One lost his life and others were wounded. Two became generals, many were decorated. Their records may span a century when warfare changed greatly. Yet the tone of the letters remains surprisingly constant reflecting confidence in their fellows, a pride in service to Crown and Country, love of family and understatement of the dangers. Being thinking men, their views on the conduct of operations is sometimes critical as are their opinions of their leaders. This collection is highly unusual and totally enthralling.
Flight testing experimental and new aircraft is one of the world's most hazardous occupations. A test pilot requires the skills of a flying ace whilst maintaining the self-control and mental discipline of a scientist. They are a rare breed, carefully selected for their experience and intelligence - let alone their bravery. This book contains a series of anecdotes written by some of the world's best, flying iconic aircraft during the extensive experimental flights that must take place before a type can enter service. Each story is a unique insight into these modern day technological explorers.
In an age of backroom generals who command from far behind troop lines, it is often forgotten that wars have been won or lost by the personality and leadership of a maverick commander. In twelve riveting portrait, best-selling historian, Robert Harvey, explores the mind and the action of such men. From the Mediterranean sea Harvey investigates what make a military commander different - a charismatic leader of men, rational under fire, unafraid to improvise or lead his men into victory against the odds. Packed with compelling and insightful analysis and story telling, Mavericks is Robert Harvey's best book to date. The Mavericks, what made them great and their key battles include: Clive of India - a master of the decisive strike, and going for the jugular, Plassey; James Wolfe - renowned by his troops for being as demanding on himself as on them, Quebec; George Washington - patience, then boldness, Yorktown; Horatio Nelson - flamboyance, careful planning and improvisation, Trafalgar; Thomas Cochrane - Fearless commando tactics and an eye for the unexpected strike, Aix Roads; The Duke of Wellington - style and soundbites, caution and planning, Salamanca; Guiseppe Garibaldi - charismatic communicator, bold in battle, Messina; Ulysses S. Grant - Cool and rational, with determination to overcome all obstacles, Vicksburg; and, Erwin Rommel - Careful calculation followed by bold strikes, Desert Campaign.It also includes: George Patton - Aggression coupled with skill in tanks and training, The Battle of the Bulge; Field Marshal Montgomery - A natural rebel with a lightning mind, El Alamein; and, Douglas MacArthur - brilliant communicator and bold, cared for his men, Inchon.
This book covers the history of African American soldiers, beginning with the American Civil War and the Plains Wars, when they were nicknamed 'Buffalo Soldiers'. It then examines their role during the age of 'American Imperialism', before distinguishing themselves in the trenches of World War I. Finally, it examines their participation in World War II, where almost half a million African Americans fought for their country, and the desegregation of the armed forces that followed.
The debacle of the Second Crusade in 1148 caused the Crusader States to realise the necessity of developing a more cautious strategy. The original expansionist spirit largely disappeared, and the Crusader States made priorities of strengthening their existing fortifications and towns and building new castles. These structures encompassed core aspects of Western European military architecture with the integration of rapidly developing Arab and Islamic traditions. Following Fortress 21: 'Crusader Castles in the Holy Land 1097 - 1192', this book examines the design, development and defensive principles of some of the best-known Crusader fortifications and castles, including Crac des Chevaliers, Castel Blanc, Arsuf, Margat, Atlit, Montfort and Acre.
'Butcher' Cumberland is portrayed as one of the arch villains of British history. His leading role in the bloody defeat of the Jacobite rebellion in 1745 and his ruthless pursuit of Bonnie Prince Charlie's fugitive supporters across the Scottish Highlands has generated a reputation for severity that has endured to the present day. He has even been proposed as the most evil Briton of the eighteenth century. But was Prince William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland, the younger son of George II, really the ogre of popular imagination? Jonathan Oates, in this perceptive investigation of the man and his notorious career, seeks to answer this question. He looks dispassionately at Cumberland's character and at his record as a soldier, in particular at this behaviour towards enemy wounded and prisoners. He analyses the rules of war as they were understood and applied in the eighteenth century. And he watches Cumberland closely through the entire course of the '45 campaign, from the retreat of the rebels across northern England to the Highlands, through Battle of Culloden and on into the bloodstained suppression that followed.
In the spring of 878 at the Battle of Edington the tide of English history turned. Alfred's decisive defeat of Guthrum the Dane freed much of the south and west of England from Danish control and brought to a halt Guthrum's assault on Alfred's Wessex. The battle was the culmination of a long period of preparation by Alfred in the wilderness - a victory snatched from the jaws of catastrophic defeat. As such, this momentous turning point around which an entire nation's future pivoted, has given rise to legends and misconceptions that persist to the present day. Paul Hill, in this stimulating and meticulously researched study, brings together the evidence of the medieval chronicles and the latest historical and archaeological research to follow the struggle as it swung across southern England in the ninth century. He dispels the myths that have grown up around this critical period in English history, and he looks at Alfred's war against the Vikings with modern eyes.
The name John Muir has come to stand for the protection of wild land and wilderness in both America and Britain. His journal provides a unique marriage of natural history, lyrical prose and amusing anecdote, retaining a freshness, intensity and brutal honesty which will amaze the modern reader.
Early in 1904 war broke out in German South West Africa, when the Herero tribe rose up against an oppressive colonial regime. The German army despatched to the colony brutally suppressed the uprising and set about the systematic annihilation of the Herero and Nama people. This collection of essays considers many aspects of this war of extermination. Edward Neather adds an introduction that situates these events in the context for the great African land rush by European powers and shows how racism, concentration camps and genocide in the German colony foreshadow the crimes committed during Hitler'ss Third Reich.
De Gaulle called it a 'fatal avenue' - that broad sweep of low-lying country stretching north east of Paris. Over the centuries, invading armies have swept back and forth over this bloody terrain, and the names of battles fought here read like a dictionary of military history - from Agincourt, Calais and Crecy to Verdun, Vimy and Ypres. Fatal Avenue is both a history and a guide - a unique study of a region that has witnessed more bitter military conflict than any other area of its size on earth.
The physical conditions of jungle warfare and the closeness of contact with the enemy pose unique problems and call for special soldiering skills. Colonel John Cross, a life long Gurkha officer, has an unrivalled knowledge of this demanding warfare and uses it to best advantage in this instructive yet personal account of techniques and experiences. He uses examples from British and Japanese sides in the Second World War and goes on to demonstrate how tactics and strategy developed in the Malay, Borneo and Indo-China theatres thereafter. He laces his work with vivid recollections and assessments of friend and foe along with entertaining anecdotes from a wide range of sources. This excellent book offers a perfect blend of factual military history and personal recollection and the reader gains a unique insight into this most challenging form of warfare.
Good strategic assessment does not guarantee success in international relations, but bad strategic assessment dramatically increases the risk of disastrous failure. The most glaring example of this reality is playing out in Iraq today. But what explains why states and their leaders are sometimes so good at strategic assessment - and why they are sometimes so bad at it? Part of the explanation has to do with a state's civil-military relations. In "Shaping Strategy", Risa Brooks develops a novel theory of how states' civil-military relations affect strategic assessment during international conflicts. And her conclusions have broad practical importance: to anticipate when states are prone to strategic failure abroad, we must look at how civil-military relations affect the analysis of those strategies at home.Drawing insights from both international relations and comparative politics, "Shaping Strategy" shows that good strategic assessment depends on civil-military relations that encourage an easy exchange of information and a rigorous analysis of a state's own relative capabilities and strategic environment. Among the diverse case studies the book illuminates, Brooks explains why strategic assessment in Egypt was so poor under Gamal Abdel Nasser prior to the 1967 Arab-Israeli war and why it improved under Anwar Sadat. The book also offers a new perspective on the devastating failure of U.S. planning for the second Iraq war. Brooks argues that this failure, far from being unique, is an example of an assessment pathology to which states commonly succumb.
In this new edition of the classic work on the historical and contemporary realities of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Bernard Wasserstein challenges the conventional view of the struggle as driven primarily by irrational, nationalist and religious ideologies. Instead he focuses on hitherto relatively neglected dimensions – population, land, labour and the social dynamics of political change. He maintains that Israelis and Palestinians live today in 'Siamese twin societies'. However much they may wish to, neither side can escape the impinging presence and influence of the other. He argues that demographic, economic and social imperatives are driving the two sides willy-nilly towards some form of symbiosis and accommodation.
In July 1944, Operation Cobra broke the stalemate in Normandy and sent the Allies racing across France. The Allied commanders had ignored Paris in their planning for this campaign, considering that the risk of intense street fighting and heavy casualties outweighed the city's strategic importance. However, Charles de Gaulle persuaded the Allied commanders to take direct action to liberate his nation's capital. Steven J Zaloga first describes the operations of Patton's Third Army as it advanced towards Paris before focussing on the actions of the Resistance forces inside the city and of the Free French armoured division that fought its way in and joined up with them to liberate it on the 24th August. On the back of this morale-boosting victory, De Gaulle could finally proclaim Paris to be liberated, as one of the world's loveliest cities survived Hitler's strident command that it should be held at all costs or razed to the ground.
In this book, maritime expert Angus Konstam explores the fledging Tudor Navy, tracing its history from its origins as a merchant fleet under Henry VII through to its emergence as a powerful force under Henry VIII. Examining the operational use of Henry VIII's warships the author analyses the battle of the Solent in 1545, in which Henry's fleet took on a French fleet of 200 ships - much larger than the Spanish Armada decades later. Despite the well-documented loss of his flagship, the Mary Rose, Henry's smaller force succeeded in preventing a French victory. Although many people will have heard of the mighty Mary Rose, this book will tell the story of more than just the tragic sinking of Henry's flagship, describing how one of history's most dynamic kings grew the navy from the five warships that were his father's legacy to 53 deadly gunships at the forefront of his empire-building strategy. Through contemporary illustrations and intricate artwork, the author traces the changing face of warship design during the Renaissance as Henry paved the way for English dominance of the sea.
In this, the first global survey of ancient warfare, a group of distinguished historians and archaeologists discuss major battles and wars not only from ancient Egypt, the Near East, Greece and Rome, but also from Central Asia, India, China, Korea, Japan and the Americas. The book ranges in time from 800 BC and the earliest definite evidence for warfare in northern Iraq to the armies of the Aztecs and Incas half a millennium ago, and includes Alexander the Great's triumphant campaigns against Persia , Hannibal's conflict with Rome and Caesar's Gallic Wars.
Navy photographers with unparalleled access to ships and facilities around the world took the 300+ photos featured in U.S. Naval Vessels, Volume 1. These photographers document all aspects of operations in peace and war with photos taken from the air, aboard ship, and at bases worldwide. This book covers U.S. Navy and Coast Guard ships and submarines. This volume includes combat operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, humanitarian missions around the world, training exercises with other nations, weapons testing, ship construction, and maintenance operations. The vast majority of these photographs are candid shots taken during actual operations conducted during 2006. All types of ships are covered, including aircraft carriers, cruisers, destroyers, attack and ballistic missile submarines, Coast Guard cutters, oilers and replenishment ships, ice breakers, and experimental ships. All of the photos include the date it was taken and a description of the event, providing invaluable information for modelers and history buffs as a reference work.
The capture of the Hapsburg city of Vienna was a major strategic aspiration for the Islamic Ottoman Empire, desperate for the control that the city exercized over the Danube and the overland trade routes between southern and northern Europe. In July 1683 Sultan Mehmet IV proclaimed a jihad and the Turkish grand vizier, Kara Mustafa Pasha, laid siege to the city with an army of 150,000 men. In September a relieving force arrived under Polish command and joined up with the defenders to drive the Turks away. The main focus of this book is the final 15-hour battle for Vienna, which peaked with a massive charge by three divisions of Polish winged hussars. This hard-won victory marked the beginning of the decline of the Islamic Ottoman Empire, which was never to threaten central Europe again.
The name Harley-Davidson is synonymous with the US motor-cycle industry. It is now, after more than a century of operation, one of only two US-based manufacturers to survive. Although the company s origins are older, 1903 is generally regarded as the year when the company s first motorcycle was produced. Three years later, the company s first factory was opened. By 1917, and the US entry into World War 1, Harley-Davidson had been making motorcycles for more than a decade and, during the USA s relatively brief involvement in that conflict, no fewer than 20,000 motorcycles were supplied to the military helping the company to become the largest motorcycle manufacturer in the world by 1920. Surviving the Great Depression, Harley-Davidson was to become one of the prime suppliers of equipment again when hostilities resumed, producing no fewer than 90,000 motorcycles for US and Canadian forces during World War 2 with a further 30,000 going to the Soviet Union as part of the Lend-Lease programme. In Military Harley-Davidson, Pat Ware explores the Harley-Davidson motorcycle in military service from the earliest days onwards. Providing initially an overview of the company and its history from 1903, the bulk of the book concentrates on the range of models produced by the company and how they were exploited for military use. Whilst the book concentrates primarily on those motorcycles produced for use by the Allies in World War 2, the continuing military role of the Harley-Davidson in other theatres postwar is also covered. Alongside the narrative and a fascinating selection of images, the book also includes a full technical specification for each of the models discussed. The Harley-Davidson is one of the great names in the history of motorcycles with a fan-base that extends worldwide. The role of the company in the provision of military hardware is a less well known but fascinating part of the history of the company and its products. This book will be of interest to Harley-Davidson fans and owners and all motor cycle enthusiasts, military historians, wargamers and preservationists.
U.S. Naval Aviation, is the first in a series of photo scrapbooks using images taken by Navy photographers with unparalleled access to facilities and aircraft around the world. These photographers document all aspects of operations in peace and war with photos taken in the air, aboard ship, and at bases worldwide.
U.S. Naval Aviation, is the first in a series of photo scrapbooks using images taken by Air Force photographers with unparalleled access to facilities and aircraft around the world. These photographers document all aspects of operations in peace and war with photos taken in the air, aboard ship, and at bases worldwide.
During 1939-1941, Fighter Command lost around 1,000 aircrew. The reasons and circumstances for these losses are shown as crucial campaigns are enacted. Forty illustrations complement the loss details and appendices provide Fighter Command Orders of Battle at crucial periods in the conflict, plus details of the build-up of Night Fighter Squadrons during 1941, and a list of Wing Leaders. In August 1939, on the eve of war with Germany, Britain was ill-prepared and Fighter Command could muster only 37 operation squadrons to face the foe. Following a brief campaign in Norway, and the brave but disastrous Battle of France and retreat through Dunkirk, Britain stood alone, waiting. As the forefront of Britain's defence at this time was RAF Fighter Command, with its Hurricanes, Spitfires, Blenheims and a few obsolete Gladiators. The inevitable onslaught began, and somehow, against vastly superior odds, the pilots, who became immortalised as the world-famed 'few', repulsed the Luftwaffe during the frenetic air fighting that culminated in 'The Battle of Britain' in the summer of 1940. Germany's failure to overcome the RAF and its decision to attack Russia allowed Britain to consolidate, rebuild, and then begin to go onto the offensive. Norman Franks has written over 30 books related to the history of the Royal Air Force. This particular work examines the sacrifice made by Fighter Command during the desperate early years of the war. Operational losses are recorded on a day-by-day basis, identifying the units concerned, the crews involved, and the aircraft type, service serial number and code letters where confirmed.
In late July 1941, Hitler ordered Army Group South to seize the Crimea as part of its operations to secure the Ukraine and the Donets Basin, in order to protect the vital Romanian oil refineries at Ploesti from Soviet air attack. After weeks of heavy fighting, the Germans breached the Soviet defences and overran most of the Crimea. By November 1941 the only remaining Soviet foothold in the area was the heavily fortified naval base at Sevastopol. Operation Sturgeon Haul, the final assault on Sevastopol, was one of the very few joint service German operations of World War II, with two German corps and a Romanian corps supported by a huge artillery siege train, the Luftwaffe's crack VIII Flieger Korps and a flotilla of S-Boats provided by the Kriegsmarine. This volume closely examines the impact of logistics, weather and joint operational planning upon the last major German victory of World War II.
The He 100 can certainly be described as an engimatic aircraft, about which still relatively little is known. The author of the book, a former aeronautical engineer, has spent many years researching the He 100. The book covers all aspects of the aircraft's development, the various sub-series produced, its high-speed accomplishments, and use that was made of it for propaganda and intelligence purposes. The aircraft which were supplied to Russia and Japan are examined as well as later projects based on it. This volume also includes a number of previously unpublished photographs, colour artworks and specially produced detailed technical drawings.
This title offers a comprehensive illustrated account of the development of military transport during the period from 1939 to 1945. Covering both Allied and Axis equipment, the book is a superbly illustrated and detailed study into an aspect of military history that has often been ignored by researchers and writers who have concentrated solely on the armoured vehicles.
Organized chronologically by division and formation date, the book describes in depth the various models of tank and other armoured and soft vehicles in service with each panzergrenadier division, with listings of unit commanders, vehicle types and numbers and unit structures. Each divisional section is further broken down by campaign, accompanied by orders of battle, a brief divisional history of the campaign and any specific unit markings.
A military history of the English Civil War which offers a detailed and lucid examination of the principal campaigns and battles; commenting upon the development of tactics and the extent to which in the King's armies both strategy and tactics were moulded by a chronic shortage of ammunition.
Feared throughout the Far East, Japanese pirates were likened to 'black demons' and 'flood dragons'. For centuries relations between Japan, Korea and China were carried out through a bizarre trinity of war, trade and piracy. The piracy, which combined the other elements in a violent blend of free enterprise, is the subject of this original and exciting book. Stephen Turnbull vividly recreates the pirates' daily lives, from legitimate whaling and fishing trips to violent raids. He explores the bases and castles used by the pirates and uses eyewitness accounts and original artwork to give stunning descriptions of a vicious and brutal life.
The first comprehensive study of the massacre's reception in the United States and its place in American memory Contrary to common interpretations of the Vietnam conflict as an unhealed national wound or trauma, it argues that, if anything, Americans have assimilated the war and its violence rather too well and that they were able to do so even when the war was at its height Incorporates a wealth of different source materials - government papers, military records and legal papers, newspapers and television, opinion polls, memoirs, psychological studies and philosophical reflections, interviews, film, art, novels, poetry and popular song, as well as a visit to the site of the massacre itself Attempts to restore the perspectives of the Vietnamese victims, neglected in most American accounts, to the written record of the massacre.
Healing the Nation is a study of caregiving during the Great War, looking anew at life behind the lines for ordinary British soldiers who served on the Western Front. Using a variety of literary, artistic, and architectural evidence, this study draws connections between the war machine and the wartime culture of caregiving: the product of medical knowledge and procedure, social relationships, matériel, institutions and physical environments that informed experiences of rest, recovery and rehabilitation in sites administered by military and voluntary-aid authorities. Rest huts, hospitals, and rehabilitation centers served not only as means to sustain manpower and support for the war but also as distinctive sites where soldiers, their caregivers and the public attempted to make sense of the conflict, and the unprecedented change it wrought, within traditional frames of reference. Revealing many aspects of wartime life that have received limited, if any attention, including the phenomenon of rest huts as ‘homes away from home’ and the notion of ‘convalescent blues’, this study shows that Britain’s ‘generation of 1914’ was a group bound as much by comradeship of healing as by comradeship of the trenches.
After a brief discussion about the meaning of 'modern' history, Michael Howard presents a fascinating analysis of the history of the 20th Century - laying much emphasis on the USA, where the author has spent much time as a Professor at Yale. It was Michael Howard who brought the study of military history into the mainstream of historical research and his readers will expect this as an emphasis in his analysis. They will expect less about suffragettes, human rights and the role of women. Howard's concern is substantially with the role of the military in the developing story of the twentieth century. At the beginning of the twentieth century, nostalgia for a lost past seems to have permeated the whole of European culture. This was the time of bucolic idylls of English musicians and poets of the Edwardian age with revivals of folk music and yearning for blue remembered hills. But thirteen million men died in the First World War and an entire world died with them. By then only rational, bureaucratic, effectively modernized states could fight such wars, with weapons designed to inflict maximum destruction. The tone for a new century was set. For if the old order died with the First World War, something else far more powerful and sinister was born, the 'rough beast' of Yeats' apocalyptic poem, that was to dominates Europe for the rest of the century. In spite of the peace of 1945, it remains alive and flourishing in many parts of the world. Such in part is the thesis of this powerfully argued book but its sub themes are skilfully interwoven and propounded.
Aimed at the modeller historian and wargamer, this latest title examines in detail the T-80, which was developed from the late 1970s onwards and represents the final phase of Soviet tank development in the era before the break-up of the Soviet Union. Amongst the most technologically advanced of all the armoured vehicles to have emerged from the old Soviet Union the T-80 and its later variants, such as the T-90 'Black Eagle' still is a major part of the inventories of the Russian army's armoured units as well as those of several of the ex-Soviet states such as the Ukraine.
War is a compelling subject. It is common to almost all known societies and periods of history. The Cambridge History of Warfare provides a detailed account of war in the West from antiquity to the present day, and is unique because of its controversial thesis that war in western societies has followed a unique path leading to western dominance of the globe. From the Greek victory at Marathon to the Gulf War, readable and authoritative, The Cambridge History of Warfare places in context the key events in the history of armed engagement. All aspects of war on land, sea, and in the air are covered: weapons and technology; strategy and defense; discipline and intelligence; mercenaries and standing armies; cavalry and infantry; chivalry and Blitzkrieg; guerilla assault and nuclear arsenals. This volume, first published as The Cambridge Illustrated History of Warfare, includes maps and an updated bibliography.
"The Last of the Ten Fighter Boys" is intended to be both a prequel and a sequel to the chapter Jimmy wrote for "Ten Fighter Boys", filling in the 'missing pieces'. The book charts: his early life before the outbreak of war in 1939; the decisions he made; and, those that were made for him. He describes how an ordinary working class boy from Maidstone was propelled into the most extraordinary of situations, landing him in the thick of the action in the skies over Kent during the summer and autumn of 1940.
Aided by a large number of previously unpublished photographs, this book tells the story of the campaign from both sides and provides detailed eye-witness accounts from individual pilots who were involved in the fighting. Besides day-to-day operations, appendices will contain comprehensive victory and loss lists.
This book provides a detailed guide to the various internal and external characteristics which distinguished each version of the Messerschmitt Me 210 and Me 410 heavy fighters. It will enable readers to see the difference between the multitude of sub-types and identify the various modifications and weapon systems and conversion packs that were used. The reason or need for particular modifications are also outlined. The book based on years of research, will prove of immense interest to aviation enthusiasts, modellers and historians fascinated by the activities and aircraft of the Luftwaffe between 1933 and 1945.
This book presents as many aspects as possible of warfare during the period of the crusades within all the cultures most directly involved. To a large extent the current interest in the Crusades reflects the perceived threat of a so-called 'clash of civilisations'. While warnings of such a supposed clash in our own times are based upon a misunderstanding of the natures of both 'Western' and 'Islamic' civilisations, some commentators have looked to the medieval Crusades as an earlier example of such a clash. In reality they were no such thing. Instead the Crusades resulted from a remarkable variety of political, economic, cultural and religious factors. The Crusades, even excluding the Northern or Baltic Crusades, also involved an extraordinary array of states, ruling dynasties, ethnic or linguistic groups and the fighting forces associated with these disparate participants. This volume focuses on Western Europe and the Byzantium Crusades. Latin or Catholic Europe certainly had an 'eastern front'. Medieval Europeans, and certainly the knightly class which came to bear the brunt of Crusading warfare, would have seen all these fronts as part of Latin Christendom's struggle against outsiders. The latter ranged from infidels to schismatics, to pagans and other 'enemies of God'. Excluding Crusading or Christian frontier warfare north of the Carpathian Mountains did not reflect any real military or even political factors on the Latin side of the 'front'. It is based upon which enemies were to be included and which excluded. This study looks at Christian and in a few cases "pagan" armies whose actions or mere existence in sub-Saharan Africa and Central Asia, had a bearing upon military, political and economic relations between Christendom and Islam within the Mediterranean world.
Rupert Matthews tells the story of the most dramatic military campaign of the medieval world, a thrilling tale of action, adventure, mystery and much more. Before the Crecy campaign began, France was recognised to have the greatest, most powerful and most modern army in all Christendom. England was thought of as a prosperous but relatively backward kingdom lying somewhere in the sea off the European coast. But six hours of bloodshed, slaughter and heroism beyond imagining changed all that. The pride of France was humbled, her army destroyed and her king a wounded fugitive fleeing for his life through a foggy night. This book explains to the general reader the reality of warfare in the year 1346. It seeks to recreate in our minds the tactics used in the Crecy Campaign and to put them into the context of the time. It shows what the weapons were like and how they were used in action. It describes the tactics of the different military units involved and how these would have impacted on each other in battle. Crucially, it takes the reader inside the minds of the commanders to explain what they did, why they did it and what they hoped to achieve. This is the second in Spellmount's new series, "Campaign in Context".
One of the greatest medieval warriors Harald Sigurdsson, nicknamed Hardrada (Harold the Ruthless or hard ruler) fell in battle in an attempt to snatch the crown of England. The spectacular and heroic career which ended at Stamford Bridge in Yorkshire on 25 September 1066 had taken Harald from Norway to Russia and Constantinople and saw him gain a kingdom by force and determination rather than right or inheritance. He was one of the most feared rulers in Europe and was first and foremost a professional soldier, who acquired great wealth by plunder and showed no mercy to those he conquered. "Harald Hardrada: The Warrior's Way" reconstructs a military career spanning three and a half decades and involving encounters with an extraordinary range of allies and enemies in sea-fights and land battles, sieges and viking raids across a variety of theatres of war. John Marsden's superbly researched and powerfully written account takes us from the lands of the Norsemen to Byzantium and the Crusades and makes clear how England moved decisively from three hundred years of exposure to the Scandinavian orbit to a stronger identification with continental Europe following the Norman invasion.
Drawing on a wealth of new evidence from all sides, Triumph Forsaken overturns most of the historical orthodoxy on the Vietnam War. Through the analysis of international perceptions and power, it shows that South Vietnam was a vital interest of the United States. The book provides many new insights into the overthrow of Ngo Dinh Diem in 1963 and demonstrates that the coup negated the South Vietnamese government's tremendous, and hitherto unappreciated, military and political gains between 1954 and 1963. After Diem's assassination, President Lyndon Johnson had at his disposal several aggressive policy options that could have enabled South Vietnam to continue the war without a massive US troop infusion, but he ruled out these options because of faulty assumptions and inadequate intelligence, making such an infusion the only means of saving the country.
5 Contemporary Military History Books to Complete Your Summer Reading List
By Col. William D. Bushnell, USMC (Ret)
The latest additions to MOAA&rsquos Military Professional Reading List cover a civil war giant, an often-overlooked part of World War II's European theater, and centuries' worth of the Crusades. Order these books through AmazonSmile via the links below using MOAA's Scholarship Fund or The MOAA Foundation as your shopping beneficiary.
Best books on military history
Depends on what topics you haven't read before. I'd suggest:
Tamerlane: Sword of Islam by Justin Marozzi
Sword of Persia: Nader Shah, From Tribal Warrior to Conquering Tyrant by Michael Axworthy
There were also some very good recommendations in this thread:
Model military history/campaign narrative books
And the best books on Europe's greatest generals:
Best military accounts/books of the 7 greatest commanders according to Napoleon?
That's an almost impossible ask, without imposing some historical or geographic boundaries, as the sheer scope of human conflict in these areas alone would
defy anything more than a passing resemblance to worth.
The best I can do is to recommend the fantastic The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers (Economic Change and Military Conflict from 1500-2000) by Paul Kennedy
This is a review written at the time by one of the worlds leading military historians, Michael Howard.
The New York Times: Book Review Search Article (nytimes.com)
As others have said, this is such a broad topic that no single book can really do it justice.
Having said that, I would recommend John Keegan's, "Face of Battle." He takes you on a "tour" of sorts, thru three different battles Agincourt, Waterloo and the Somme. For me at least, he really helped me to envision the battles, the tactics and the weapons and technology present at the three different battles. But even as helpful (imho) as this book was, it still doesn't explain the advances made in warfare post-WWI. And the focus of the book is on the battlefield, this particular book (iirc) doesn't discuss the geopolitics surrounding war nor does it address the economic side of things, which are very important aspects of war and of understanding it.
By Carl von Clausewitz
So let’s go through the books you’ve chosen. The first one is by the Prussian general Carl von Clausewitz, On War (1832), which is obviously a very important book. He’s very much a soldier’s soldier, isn’t he? He joined the army at the age of twelve, he was a prisoner of war—he really seems to have experienced it all. Tell me why people should read his book.
What Clausewitz is trying to do in On War is to help you understand war as a phenomenon. Most military writing, not least by his contemporaries, was trying to establish principles for the conduct of war. It had an instructional purpose. It might use military history—and Clausewitz wrote a lot of military history—but its intention was, essentially, to provide a set of principles.
Clausewitz, in a way, wanted to write that sort of book. He wanted to establish a theory of war. But he was both too good a historian and, in some ways, too good a political philosopher—although he was self-taught in both respects—to succumb to that pressure. Every time he found an exception to a general proposition or a general rule, instead of disregarding it he would say, ‘Well, this has to be part of the discussion. If we’re going to understand war as a general phenomenon, we need to embrace both sides, or several sides.’
One of the challenges is that people read Clausewitz selectively and quote him selectively—because in the end you can probably find something that will support any proposition in relation to war within what he’s writing. (That’s not exactly true, he doesn’t talk about war at sea, for example, and he doesn’t really talk about the economic dimensions of war). But he is absolutely engaged in an internal dialogue.
So it’s a book about how to understand war more than a book about how to make war. There’s a famous book on Clausewitz by Raymond Aron, called Penser la Guerre. (In English it’s called Clausewitz, Philosopher of War). The point is that it’s about thinking about war, not about how to make war. Clausewitz’s contemporary, a man called Jomini, is the subject of a biography by a Swiss historian called Jean-Jacques Langendorf. It’s a good book, which he calls Faire la Guerre, to make the distinction between thinking about war and actually doing it.
“How On War has been received has varied from generation to generation”
Clausewitz was a practitioner and his practice and his experience matter. But he is also historically conscious. He was told by the father figure in his life, Gerhard von Scharnhorst, to think historically. Because he was a Prussian, he also had to think about how his experience of war, fighting Napoleon, related to the experience of his father, who’d been an officer in the Seven Years’ War fighting for Fredrick the Great. Even that level of historical comparison led to differences and debate in his thinking. And, as he wanted to write a theory which he hoped would be valued across generations, he had to be open to the realisation that his own experience wasn’t the only experience, that there are other ways and forms of war.
The fact that he is not technologically determined—he’s not really concerned with things that we might now see as central to understanding war, a ‘post-industrial’ view of war—and much more politically and socially determined, makes him more flexible. If you think of wars today in Iraq and Afghanistan, Clausewitz has really gone through a pretty good revival—having been denigrated very often in the 1990s after the end of the Cold War—because of the rise in non-state actors. It’s precisely because he sees war in a social and political context that, in the context of Iraq and Afghanistan—where technology has been less important than the historical background, the cultural background, the social conditions—he has things to say to us. He’s a way of asking questions about war.
It’s not a military history as such is it? I mean, you can see that he’s calling on his experiences in Prussia…
And he has a lot of experiences, perhaps more than the average soldier would have today. But while I saw a couple of references to Frederick’s time, mostly he’s trying to abstract what he knows. There are not many anecdotes.
No, he assumes you know the history of his times. The references don’t really go back before 1742, but we should not neglect what he wrote at one time about war in the 17th century. He noticed states were not as developed as in his own day, that war too was not in the same condition. This was itself instructive. So he absolutely saw the value of wider historical study. But for him, and for most of his generation, and indeed for most people who wrote about war theoretically, right up probably until 1945, military history was the core discipline. They weren’t trained academic historians, self-evidently, but military history was the underpinning of their theory.
So alongside On War, which is the famous work, there’s much, much more that is straight military history that he wrote and used as the anvil on which he could hammer out what his theory was.
So basically you put On War at the top of the list because it was the first or still the most significant study of what war is?
Most military historians and most students of war will say there’s never been a book as important as Clausewitz’s On War. Some will say it’s an indication of the poverty of the subject, that it still remains the most important theoretical book on war. I think it’s partly because of Clausewitz’s own approach. As we would put it today, he’s multidisciplinary. He may use history particularly, but he was self-taught as a political philosopher, and he clearly read quite a lot of mathematics and science as a post-Enlightenment figure in Berlin. It’s not that this is directly applied, but he provides it as a way of thinking about some of the problems.
And of course he’s not facing a publisher’s deadline. On War was never published in his lifetime. It was an ongoing work. He didn’t have his editor ringing him up saying, ‘Where the hell is this book?’ the whole time. And while I’m being flippant about this, I think if he were still alive he’d still be writing it, actually.
For the record, I should point out that you’ve written a biography of On War, looking at how it has been received down the years.
Yes, it’s an attempt to deal with his arguments, to give a bit of context to them. How On War has been received has varied from generation to generation. People tend to hijack it for their own purposes and stress different aspects of the book as though their version, the version as of 2018, is the version. Actually, the whole point about the book is its subtlety and variety. Those who work on war will say they go back and look again, and something strikes them afresh. Sometimes my students will quote something from Clausewitz at me and I think, ‘Gosh, I had never read it that way’ or ‘I missed that!’ It has that textual variety and depth which does provide an endless source of inspiration.
5 of the Best Military History Books to Read
Military history books are a dime a dozen. You can frequent any public library or any bookstore and be one hundred percent certain that you will come upon military history books. Books have been written about every single major combat ever fought. There are also books about small skirmishes and micro-histories of the most obscure engagements. They are informative, historical, and (without sounding insensitive) they are entertaining reads. There are probably hundreds of thousands of amazing books out there that I have not even read, but I am going to tell you about a few of the best military history books that I have read.
George Washington&rsquos Secret Six: The Spy Ring that Saved the American Revolution by Brian Kilmeade and Don Yaeger
Much has been written about the American Revolution, but only a cursory examination has concentrated on Washington&rsquos secret six, also known as the Culper Ring. Many over-the-top patriotic stories have been told about how George Washington and America&rsquos patriots outmaneuvered and outsmarted the massive and powerful British army. In reality, what Washington did to win the war was outspy the British. To quote the British General Major George Beckwith, &ldquoWashington did not really outfight the British, he simply outspied us.&rdquo Brian Kilmeade and Don Yaeger, using as much research as they could muster, detail just how Washington and his secret spy ring used their intelligence to always be one step ahead of the British. It is a fascinating read that details a part of history they never taught you in grade school.
Red Platoon: A True Story of American Valor by Clinton Romesha
This book is hands down one of the best books I have ever read. The story was powerful, exhilarating, and it hits you right in the feels. It is the only firsthand account of the Battle of Kamdesh, also known as COP Keating, during the war in Afghanistan in 2009. It is written by Clinton Romesha, a Medal of Honor recipient and survivor of the battle. Three hundred Taliban assaulted the American outpost and were relentless in their attack for 14 straight hours. Many died in battle and only a few lived to tell the story. This book is vitally important because it provides the public a glimpse of what many of our soldiers faced in Afghanistan. I highly recommend that everybody pick this book up and read it.
Onward Towards Our Noble Deaths by Shigeru Mizuki
Mizuki is literally one of the greatest, most important cartoonists to ever put pen to paper. But he was also more than that he was a philosopher, historian, and a visionary. He was also a solider in the Imperial Japanese Army and saw firsthand Japan&rsquos role during World War II. Onward Towards Our Noble Deaths is a historical fiction manga account of Japanese soldiers&rsquo lives during the war. Mizuki does not shy away from discussing comfort women (wartime prostitutes) and just how insane his superiors were. The book is a masterful achievement because it paints a picture for the public that was not well-known. Not all Japanese soldiers saw the war as a necessary war, and were reluctant to march on toward their deaths. Mizuki was critical of the Japanese Army&rsquos role during the war and used every opportunity he could to let the world know how much he and other soldiers disapproved of what was occurring. This is a must-read.
D-Day, 1944: Voices From Normandy by Robin Neillands and Roderick De Normann
World War II has been written about extensively, so it is hard to pick and choose what to read. D-Day, 1944: Voices from Normandy by Robin Neillands and Rederick De Normann is a good place to start. Many people know about Operation Overlord, commonly known as D-Day, and its vital importance to opening up a second front on the West. But what this book does well is provide firsthand accounts of many of the participants who fought on that fateful day. There were five beachheads that were stormed: Juno, Sword, Gold, Utah and Omaha. Two beachheads belonged to the Americans, two belonged to the British, and one belonged to the Canadians. All beachheads were eventually secured, but many lives were lost and the fighting was intense. Soldiers who stormed the beaches and those who parachuted in the night before tell their stories and what they experienced to ensure the beachheads were secured and that humanity prevailed. This is an intense read that deserves more recognition.
Band of Brothers by Stephen E. Ambrose
This book is one of the best military history books. Historian Stephen Ambrose provides detailed accounts of Easy Company experiences during World War II. Their experiences were extraordinary and are the subject of the HBO miniseries Band of Brothers. The book introduces readers to the company&rsquos training in 1942 and leads up to the liberation of Hitler&rsquos &ldquoEagle&rsquos Nest&rdquo in 1945. This book is a massive achievement that was written by one of the eminent historians of our time. I suggest you pick it up and read it over the summer.
What do you think are the best military history books? Check out even more books about military service here.
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My top 10: books anyone interested in U.S. military history should read
These are my picks-books that I loved. Your choices may be very different. Keeping yourself to just ten, what would they be?
The American Revolution
By David Hackett Fischer
Hands down, Fischer is my favorite historian. I have read every book he has written, and one of them, Albion’s Seed, his masterpiece, twice. After this, check out his Paul Revere’s Ride. I’d love to see him take on the Civil War sometime.
Battle Cry of Freedom
By James M. McPherson
A lively, sweeping, comprehensive history of our most important war.
Son of the Morning Star
By Evan S. Connell
A great take on Custer, and also of the life of the American soldier in the taking of the West.
World War II
I think our best-written war. If you haven’t, read these next two together:
Band of Brothers
by Stephen Ambrose.
With a company of the 101st Airborne from D-Day to the end of World War II. I was reading this book once aboard a Marine CH-53 flying off Bosnia, and the grizzled old sergeant running the helicopter saw the book and gave me two thumbs up. By the way, I think the HBO series based on this book is the best war movie ever made.
by Joseph Heller.
The flip side of the band of brothers: Someone is trying to kill me, even though I have done nothing to him. More of a military book than many remember. “Without realizing how it had come about,” Heller writes, “the combat men in the squadron discovered themselves dominated by the administrators appointed to serve them.” Thus is it always.
And two from the war in the Pacific:
With the Old Breed at Peleliu and Okinawa
by E.B. Sledge.
No one passage or quotation leaps out, just the clear-eyed descriptions of mud, filth, flies and maggots by a young Marine who was amazed to be alive when the war ended (“You will survive,” a mysterious voice assured him during a battle) and went on to become a professor of biology.
by Eugene Fluckey.
A bad title for a sprightly memoir by a young submarine captain in the Pacific war, written by an old man looking back as a retired admiral, perhaps a bit amazed at the feats of his reckless youth. After sneaking into a harbor and shelling Japanese ships, he ran his sub into shoals, figuring correctly that no one would be crazy enough to follow him.
This Kind of War
by T.R. Fehrenbach.
The book to read about the Korean War, if only for one passage: “You may fly over a land forever, you may bomb it, atomize it, pulverize it and wipe it clean of life — but if you desire to defend it, protect it and keep it for civilization, you must do this on the ground, the way the Roman legions did, by putting your young men into the mud.” This should hang on a wall somewhere in Washington. I am always amazed at the amount of mud that military operations churn up. And how heavy it can be on your boots. In parts of Iraq, the mud is like cement-gray, heavy and very difficult to chip off.
Both these Vietnam books are as much about how war changes people as about the war itself.
Achilles in Vietnam
by Jonathan Shay.
Written by a full-time veterans’ counselor. “Bad leadership is a cause of combat trauma,” but good training is a preventive medicine that can reduce trauma. Even so, “prolonged combat can wreck the personality.” It makes me think of Oliver Wendell Holmes’ report to his mother after the battle of Cold Harbor in 1864 that he was done.
The Nightingale’s Song
by Robert Timberg
Obscure title, but a wonderful book about how war shaped John McCain, James Webb, Oliver North, and others schooled at the Naval Academy in the 1960s.
Stephen Morton/Getty Images
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Some books that may interest you
In Good Company
By: The Hon William Fraser
Edited by: David Fraser
Heroes and Landmarks of British Aviation
By: Richard Edwards, Peter J Edwards
A Handbook Of American Military History From The Revolutionary War To The Present
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Monday, February 22, 2010
USS Enterprise Resupply
The guided-missile frigate USS Taylor (FFG 50), Military Sealift Command fast combat support ship USNS Supply (T-AOE6) and nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65) conduct a connected replenishment (CONREP).
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